The coronavirus crisis has created unprecedented levels of devastation, with millions infected around the world, hundreds of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more experiencing serious illness and long-lasting health effects. But beyond the blow to the physical health of the world is the profound impact on the mental lives of people.

The current lockdown has created enormous challenges in terms of mental health. From ongoing anxiety surrounding the virus and the possibility of infection to worries about loved ones living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities to squabbles with spouses and children, these mental health challenges are everywhere and ever-present.

So how can you maintain your own mental health and well being during the coronavirus lockdown? How can you get the help and support you need without putting your physical well being at risk? Here are five timely tips for maintaining your mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown.

1. Meet Online with Family and Friends

The world may be on lockdown, but the internet is still functioning, and that is good news for you and your mental health. With nothing more than an internet connection, you can chat with your elderly grandparents at the nursing home, talk to your child's teacher about lesson plans and your stir-crazy kids or just experience a real connection with your best friend.
This kind of online connection can be a balm for your emotions during the lockdown, so take advantage of the technological tools you have at your disposal. You already have a supercomputer in your pocket, so why not pull it out and use it for something important?

2. Schedule an Online Therapy Session

You may have heard the stories of barbers and hairdressers holding video calls with their clients, guiding them step by step and helping them cut their own hair. If something as trivial as a haircut can be done by video chat, why not something as profound as therapy?

An online therapy session could be just the thing for your mental health, lifting your spirits, giving you the coping mechanisms you need and helping you make it through the lockdown with your emotional life intact. If you are already seeing a therapist, ask if they can schedule a telemedicine session. If you are new to this kind of support, research online therapy and see what it has to offer.

3. Help Others in Need

Lots of people are hurting in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, and the pain is only expected to get worse as the lockdown continues. With as many as 20% of the population already unemployed and millions of small businesses on the brink of financial collapse, the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic are truly mind-boggling.

You can be a light in the devastation of the global pandemic, and all you need is some time and the desire to make it happen. It could be donating extra food to the local pantry or soup kitchen. It could be making a monetary donation to a local charity overwhelmed by the sudden need. Or it could be something as simple as donating blood and helping your fellow community members through a health crisis.

“Helping others in need makes you feel good about yourself, and as such will be good for your mental health and emotional stability during this time of crisis,” says Michael Dadashi, CEO of Infinite Recovery. Nothing feels as good as giving back, especially when there are so many others in dire need.

4. Take Time to Pamper Yourself

The desire to pamper yourself can seem self-indulgent in the face of a global pandemic, but there is nothing wrong with treating yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of a mental health crisis, take a minute to breathe, relax and do something just for yourself.

It could be a soothing bubble bath in a piping hot tub. It could be a candlelight dinner for you and your spouse. It could be a Netflix marathon with your favorite movies and TV shows. No matter what you do, you will feel better on the other side.

5. Turn Off the News

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news, and that can have a profoundly negative impact on your mental health and well being. And while it is important to stay informed and keep up with the latest news, that does not mean you need to indulge in it 24/7.

If you want to improve your mental health and feel better, start by putting yourself on a media diet. Check for updates a few times a day, then turn the TV off and read a good book, listen to music or just relax.

Mental health experts have long warned that social isolation is bad for the emotional well being of their patients. Therapists encourage their patients to engage with the world around them, reaching out to others, making friends and working to overcome their isolation.

It is ironic, therefore, that the response to a global health crisis has created that same kind of social isolation, an action that could end up having unintended consequences on mental health around the world. And while the lockdown may be necessary to halt the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve, it is important to recognize the need for online therapy, media diets, self-care and other actions to reduce the mental health impact. The five tips listed above can help you cope more effectively with the lockdown, so you can emerge happier and healthier when the coronavirus crisis is finally over.